Friday, September 15, 2006

Pierre Louÿs


A shadow, an alter ego, a doppelganger...

This blogger of yours was 15 minutes late to a dinner-party at the heart of toff Madrid last Wednesday and that meant being first guest to arrive. The only other early-bird, Notalmodovar, might have had some English punctuality inherited from the blood of his famous family namesake. He was supposed to come with his sister, Alba Nelson, but something had prevented them from travel together. BlondLou, the Dear Hostess, was relieved when told that she had not mixed up e-mails. There is another Alba Nelson, apparently. Same age, same school, same gym. Notalmodovar knows all about that other girl. He keeps hearing from friends in parties though that she either had just left or that they were still expecting her. “But have you actually seen her?” – I ask. “In fact, although I’ve been close to it for the last ten years I’ve not actually met her”- he answers back … and that’s when the “Doppelganger” theme infected, as an operating system's virus, the whole dinner-party.

The blond Alba arrives in the mean time and confirms she had indeed met the brunette Alba (or was it the other way around?) . How can you keep your sense of self if someone robs you of that most precious self-identity tool, the unique unbreakable combination of your first name and your family name? (To illustrate my point let us say that I would plan for the murder of any Jorge Ryder who would come my way).

Someone says that the only doppelgangers in real-life, not alter-ego shadows of oneself but actual replicates of one’s identity are monozygotic twins. To the surprise of most of us we had one half of a twin pair and one third of triplet trio at table! The JusticerodeCastellana has a twin, who was the first to emerge into this world and therefore the elder brother according to the law but the youngest one according to biology. Is there a “second son” syndrome among twins? ( The Iron Mask story comes to one’s mind).

Delightful LouÿsScholar is a triplet and she confesses that the situation might sometimes not be that easy to deal with. She makes that statement with serious but tender almost sad eyes, and a Bilitis Song fragment comes to mind:

" Ouvre sur moi tes yeux si tristes et si tendres/ Miroirs de mon étoile, asiles éclairés,/ Tes yeux plus solennels de se voir adorés,/ Temples où le silence est le secret d'entendre.//Quelle île nous conçut des strophes de la mer? /(...) "

So we sailed on, around the dinner-table, keeping the conversation journey close to the wind of dual-identities.

Was Sagenevesse a pure French-Swiss or a Swiss-French? Paris-Genéve or Genéve-Paris? Was the twin a Pasha-goer or a briefcase-carrying CEO? Was the triplet a student of Pierre Louÿs’ serious stuff or a secret admirer of his more licentious, and celebrated, poetry?

We even got into a lengthy and slightly bizarre argument of a very peculiar case of double-self. Is there a physical virginity of Virgin Mary distinct from Her theological virginity (Immaculate being the absence of the stain of the Original Sin) ? Catechism had been taught so many decades ago that consensus was unreachable. Even the most pro in Religious Affairs among us, who would have considered being a priest if only the Church could accept it, was not sure about it. By the time we switched subjects, if this blogger of yours can recall it, Saint Anne herself was about to become a Biblical virgin..

Immaculate Conception is not your day to day subject at a dinner-party, the Right Honourable Reader might agree. The SeñoraCura made the point that Our Lady of the Conception was the Patroness of Spain and I stepped in, deciding that I would have none of it. It is a well known fact that Our Lady of Conception is “ours”, being the Patroness of Portugal since medieval times. She disagreed: the Patroness of Segovia and of Spain since the XIII, she said. “What Spain in the XIII century ? There was no Spain then.. ” - I counter-argue. Our national and Catholic identities became embroiled.

- Tribe and Religion, one always doppelganging the other...

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